Sometimes an insight comes immediately after hearing an inspiring thought; sometimes it takes time. Yesterday I attended a wonderful tutor encounter — a gathering of people who facilitate Baha’i classes and share thoughts and inspiration of how to become better at sharing Baha’u'llah’s healing message. I was particularly struck by Riva’s observation that the institute process is a tool for spiritual transformation on an individual and community level and how the litmus test of faith is having it become your daily life.
It was exactly 18 years ago (probably to the day) that over a phone call to Odessa, the former Soviet Union, I declared: “I want to be a Baha’i”. This morning I was reflecting on the meaning of that declaration and the fact that the declaration of Faith starts with the belief in Baha’u'llah. But it does not stop there. The declaration card itself emphasizes the importance of recognizing principles, institutions and laws that must be obeyed. So my reflection this morning was on how critical it is to bridge the gap between intent and action. How different a belief would be if left as a belief alone, with no action. How being is more than just believing.
Now symbolically entering the age of spiritual maturity, 18 years after that fateful declaration, I am reflecting on it again and confirming that yes, I do want to be a Baha’i, in the being sense of the word, just as Abdu’l-Baha advised upon his departure from this country:
Now the time has come when we must part, but the separation is only of our bodies; in spirit we are united. Ye are the lights which shall be diffused; ye are the waves of that sea which shall spread and overflow the world. Each wave is precious to me, and my nostrils shall be gladdened by your remembrance. Another commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another even as I love you. Great mercy and blessings are promised to the people of your land, but on one condition; that their hearts be filled with the fire of love, that they live in perfect harmony and kindness like one soul in different bodies. Never forget this; look at one another with the eye of perfection; look at me, follow me, be as I am; take no thought for yourselves or your lives, whether ye eat or whether ye sleep, whether ye are comfortable, whether ye are well or ill, whether ye are with friends or foes, whether ye receive praise or blame; for all these things ye must care not at all. Look at me and be as I am; ye must die to yourselves and to the world, so ye shall be born again and enter the kingdom of heaven. Behold the candle, how it gives light. It weeps its life away drop by drop in order to give forth its flame of light. The time has come when we must part, but the separation is only of our bodies; in spirit we are united forever.
I say unto you that any one who will rise up in the Cause of God at this time shall be filled with the spirit of God, and that He will send His hosts from heaven to help you, and that nothing shall be impossible to you if you have faith. And now I give you a commandment which shall be for a Covenant between you and me: that ye have faith; that you faith be steadfast as a rock that no storms can move, that nothing can disturb, and that it endure through all things even to the end; even should ye hear that your Lord has been crucified, be not shaken in your faith; for I am with you always, whether living or dead; I am with you to the end. As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be. This is the standard — this is the standard — this is the standard.
(Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 503)
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